Friday, 14 February 2014

Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks III

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

Having detonated a bomb inside a Tyrian Temple of Tanith, the Exaltationists threaten to destroy the whole city if their blackmail demand is not met. (Sometimes in the text, "Tyrian" is misprinted as "Tynan": r and i have become n.)

Although the explosion in the Temple disturbs the Tyrians, it is not difficult for them to explain it: " could have been a quarrel among the gods" (p. 254). Besides which:

"'To them, the world isn't entirely governed by laws of nature; it's capricious, changeable, magical.'" (ibid.)

Everard thinks:

"And they're fundamentally right, aren't they?" (ibid.)

Tyre, significant in the Bible, is the chief civilizing influence on Solomon's kingdom so the response of the director of the Time Patrol Jerusalem Base in that period is of particular interest:

"'...I don't believe [the Patrol] should concentrate all available effort on rescuing Tyre. If that happens, and we fail, everything is lost; the chances of our being able to restore the original world become vanishingly small. No, let us establish a strong standby - personnel, organization, plans - in Jerusalem, ready to minimize the effects there. The less that Solomon's kingdom suffers, the less powerful the change vortex will be. That should give us more likelihood of damping it out altogether.'" (pp. 308-309)

Told that this is playing fast and loose with history, he agrees. "...damping it out altogether..." would surely have to mean that, although Tyre had been destroyed as if by a volcano or an asteroid strike, the Biblical and other records would have to be such that subsequent generations would believe that it had continued to exist. Surely this is impossible? Earlier, Everard had reflected that:

"A few tons of high explosive would leave [Tyre] in ruins. The devastation needn't even be total. After such a terrifying manifestation of supernatural fury, no one would come back here. Tyre would crumble away, a ghost town, while all the centuries and millennia, all the human beings and their lives and civilizations, which it had helped to bring into existence...those would be less than ghosts." (p. 256)

Jerusalem Base would need to have exceptionally effective personnel, organization and plans to counteract that.

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